A former aide and official in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration on Wednesday detailed allegations of sexual harassment and an unwanted kiss, writing in an essay posted online the governor's office fostered a culture of inappropriate comments and behavior.
Cuomo's office in response said the allegations by Lindsey Boylan were "quite simply false" and released a joint statement from former aides who denied a specific claim in Boylan's essay and who records indicate would have been present at the time.
Boylan's essay was made public on Wednesday morning; Spectrum News reached out to Cuomo's office for a response.
Initial allegations by Boylan, now a candidate for Manhattan borough president, first surfaced late last year, when she accused Cuomo of sexually harassing her while she was an economic development official in his administration. Cuomo similarly denied those allegations at the time.
“Look, I fought for and I believe a woman has the right to come forward and express her opinion and express issues and concerns that she has," Cuomo said. "But it’s just not true.”
Boylan has not responded to further requests for comment.
In a post on the website Medium, Boylan writes Cuomo has "created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected."
In one instance she said Cuomo kissed her while in his New York City office.
In another, Boylan said Cuomo suggested a game of "strip poker" he and several aides stepped into the small confines of a plane returning from an event in Buffalo.
Public records indicate Boylan was on a plane with Cuomo in October 2017 after an economic development event in western New York. Several other people were included on that flight, according to the schedules, including former aides Dani Lever, Abbey Fashouer Collins and John Maggiore, as well as former Empire State Development CEO Howard Zemsky.
"We were on each of these October flights and this conversation did not happen," they said in a joint statement.
Cuomo's office also denied the allegations in the post by Boylan.
"As we said before, Ms. Boylan's claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false," said Cuomo spokeswoman Caitlin Girouard.
"In Ms. Boylan's latest blog post, she opens up with a story about a plane trip in October 2017 - the manifests of all flights from October 2017 can be found below - there was no flight where Lindsey was alone with the Governor, a single press aide, and a NYS Trooper."
Boylan's essay goes beyond individual incidents. She describes a workplace culture in which harassment is pervasive. In one example, Boylan says an aide to Cuomo compared her to a woman the governor was rumored to have been romantically involved with, attaching emails sent at the time.
In another instance, Cuomo gave her a private tour of his office in Albany, which she found unsettling.
"I know some will brush off my experience as trivial," Boylan wrote. "We are accustomed to powerful men behaving badly when no one is watching. But what does it say about us when everyone is watching and no one says a thing?"
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in released a statement in response call Boylan's allegations "deeply disturbing."
“Clearly, there is no place for this type of behavior in the workplace or anywhere else,” she said.
The allegations come as Cuomo is facing a political firestorm surrounding his handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic and the official reporting of fatalities among residents during the crisis.
Cuomo has acknowledged his administration should have moved faster to release public information surrounding the deaths of residents, but hesitated amid a federal inquiry. Cuomo and his office have said the U.S. Department of Justice's request for information was responded to at the time of the requests.